Hydration, Nutrition & Fatigue

Fatigue is a common challenge faced by beginners in any sport. It’s normal to feel tired after a run, especially if you are new to exercise, but not if it means the rest of your day is spent feeling depleted and sluggish.

When starting a new sport, the body undergoes increased stress as it adapts to new movements and energy demands. Like a car, if you going to be driving further or faster than before, you will need to top up on fuel, water and everything else needed to ensure the engine works efficiently.

Your body is not very different.

The three main considerations:

  • Are you getting enough water?
  • Are you getting enough fuel?
  • Are you electrolytes in a good balance?

Let’s take a look at some of these causes and ways you can make small changes to your routine to ensure you not only have energy before you hit the trails, but enough energy to see you through the day.

Am I the only one who needs a nap after morning runs?  I am unable to function for a few hours, my body feels completely exhausted. ~ Nini

 Sound familiar?


A well hydrated, nourished and rested body start long before the morning of your run. As you embark on a new active lifestyle, you will start to see the other lifestyle changes which fall into place.

Eating well, getting plenty rest and staying hydrated are all part of preparing your body for a new exercise.

Besides lacing up your shoes and hitting the gravel, there are a lot of “little things” that go into running health and performance.

The common causes

Let’s cover the basics.

Dehydration is the enemy of runners everywhere.

The more dehydrated you are during the run, the more exhausted you’ll be after the fact. So make sure that you’re at a good level of hydration every single day, not just the days that you run. 

Proper hydration while running is critical for optimal performance and general well-being of your body.

Aim to drink at least 2 litres of pure water each day. Carry water in your car, keep a bottle next to your desk and try and make it a daily habit.



Carry water when you run! It’s a no brainer.

You cannot rely on mountain streams and waterfalls to magically provide you with water 40minutes into your run once the clouds have parted and its now a gorgeous 25 degree Cape Town day.

Some of the simple signs that you may need to hydrate during your run:

  • Thirst, which is linked to a dry mouth
  • Decrease in energy and performance
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Rule of thumb: you will need 100ml of drinking water for every 20minutes you plan to be out there ( plus VAT)

It’s better to take smaller amounts in more frequently than trying to drink large quantities infrequently which can cause tummy issues.



Is your body getting enough fuel?

Yes, we mean quite simply, are you eating enough food (a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, mineral with enough protein to promote muscle growth and repair.) to provide your body with the increased energy it needs to be active an additional 60min twice a week.

TIP: Drink before you are thirsty & eat before you are hungry.
As a rule of thumb consume a bite size of salt, sugar, 100ml water every 45min of running or 5km, whichever comes first.

It’s important to start fueling well before our bodies are close to using up all our glycogen stores. For most runners, that’s 30 to 45 minutes into a long run.

Still, every body is different, and it’s essential to practice fueling during your training runs.


Your body runs on two types of fuel; carbohydrates (glucose) and fats.

Simply put, when you start running your body sources fuel in the following order:

  • Glucose in your bloodstream (simple carbs which are readily available as energy)
  • Stored glucose in your muscles (glycogen) –
  • Fat (this is hard work for your body and takes longer to convert to energy)

30min before your run, focus on simple carbohydrates that can be used immediately. Sources for these include fruit, regular sports drinks and energy gels. We like to have a quick banana or smoothie first thing in the morning.

During your run, for runs of 60min or more, aim to consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour.
This goal can be met with beverages or food. Two cups of a regular sports drink contain about 30 grams of carbohydrates. Our ‘go to’ on long runs is a combination of Safari Berry Chews ( easily digested dried fruit and high in sugar) or energade jelly babies (also contains electrolytes), water mixed with a sports rehydrate and biltong slices (high in salts).

SAFARI Fruit Chews

What are electrolytes?

‘Positively or negatively charged ions that conduct electrical activity … hey are necessary to help maintain proper fluid balance, [and] perform functions involved in muscle contraction and relaxation.’ ~ Jonathan Toker, Ph.D., an organic chemist and elite trail runner who founded the hydration-products company SaltStick.

Before you think about supplements, try to increase the amount of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. In general rich sources of magnesium are greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains, wheat germ, wheat and oat bran. Try includes these in your weekly meal planning.


When you run, you sweat, so you lose electrolytes. You therefore need to compensate for the loss in minerals through running.

If you are trying to rehydrate by drinking a lot of water, failing to consume electrolytes at the same time can upset the balance of electrolytes in your bloodstream.

Balanced electrolytes are necessary for your digestive, cardiac, muscular and nervous systems to function well.

Electrolytes are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca 2+), magnesium, (Mg 2+), chloride (Cl-), phosphate (PO4 2-), bicarbonate (HCO3-), and sulfate (SO4 2-).

Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are the four major electrolytes that maintain the body’s fluid balance.

Optimal magnesium levels can help reduce tiredness, maintain normal blood pressure and protect your DNA. Magnesium might also help reduce the accumulation of lactic acid during hard sessions.